Christianity 201

March 13, 2022

The Glory of God: Blinding Light

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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NIV.2Cor.3.12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Four years ago, we referred to and quoted from a blog with a most unusually long name, Through the Bible in Who Knows How Many Days, a blog which was started in May, 2011 with some occasional breaks for the author, who goes by BK, to translate older posts into Japanese. Clicking the title/header below will take you there directly, and you’re encouraged to read and comment there.

Seeing God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3)

Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.”

He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘the Lord’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

But he added, “You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” (Exodus 33:18-20 CSB)

There are a lot of ties between this passage and 2 Corinthians 3.

For sinful humans like us, the glory of God can be a scary thing. Because he is so holy and we are not, people could not see God’s glory and live.

And so for Moses, God provided a rock to hide behind. (Exodus 33:21-23)

In the tabernacle, there was a curtain that blocked the priests and everyone else from the Most Holy Place where God revealed his presence. (Leviticus 16:2)

Even when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, he burned incense creating a cloud that prevented him from seeing God’s glory directly. (Leviticus 16:12-13)

Just to see the remnants of God’s glory on Moses’ face was too much for the Israelites. And so Moses put a veil on his face, even as that glory gradually faded away. (Exodus 34:29-30)

But when Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was torn. And now, when we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. And in the face of Christ, we see God’s glory.

But in seeing God’s glory, we are not destroyed. Rather, we are transformed into his likeness. Sinful though we are, God is gradually changing us. And when Jesus comes, in an instant, we will be like him. (I John 3:2)

And unlike the glory that faded from Moses’ face, we go from glory to glory. (18)

So like Paul, let us be bold. (13)

Bold in drawing near to God. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

And bold in sharing the message that gives life with those around us. (4-6)

March 1, 2017

God Draws a Picture of Himself

Ever asked a kid to draw a picture of himself or herself? We heard a story many years ago about a very young child who was denied admittance to a prominent school because they couldn’t draw such an image.

Describing yourself can be a difficult task. Some people have no problem writing a resumé and boasting of their accomplishments, while some find it a challenge to talk about themselves.

Pause for a moment and think about this…what do you think God would say if he were drawing a verbal picture of Himself?

…So how does God talk about God?

I recently got an update from someone where I live who is off working for a ministry organization; “He is who He says He is, and Exodus 34, where God describes His character in the Bible for the first time, reminds us of this.

I decided to check out this passage and I offer it to you here in bullet point form. But first, The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke…” I can hear Moses saying, “Oh…yeah…sorry about that.” It is a rather comedic moment, though not quite as comedic as Aaron’s answer as to where the golden calf came from; the thing that causes Moses to lose it and break the tablets in the first place. But I digress. Then:

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord,

  • the compassionate and
  • gracious God,
  • slow to anger,
  • abounding in love and
  • [abounding in] faithfulness,
  • maintaining love to thousands, and
  • forgiving wickedness,
  • [forgiving] rebellion and
  • [forgiving sin. Yet
  • he does not leave the guilty unpunished;
  • he punishes the children and
  • [he punishes] their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

I’ve never formatted a Bible verse quite like that and I trust the formatting doesn’t offend anyone, but we see here 12 characteristics or traits of God’s self-description.

Take a few minutes to slowly re-read that list and think about the God-picture that you have, or that of your friends, neighbors, relatives or co-workers.

Matthew Henry notes 3 primary things God says in this passage:

1. That the God with whom we have to do is a great God.
2. That he is a good God
3. That he is a just and holy God.

It is the second and third aspects of this that seem to confound readers today. Henry notes:

His greatness and goodness illustrate and set off each other. That the terror of his greatness may not make us afraid, we are told how good he is; and, that we may not presume upon his goodness, we are told how great he is. Many words are here heaped up, to acquaint us with, and convince us of, God’s goodness, and to show how much his goodness is both his glory and his delight, yet without any tautology.

Of God’s goodness he notes:

(1.) He is merciful.
(2.) He is gracious.
(3.) He is long-suffering.
(4.) He is abundant in goodness and truth.
(5.) He keeps mercy for thousands.
(6.) He forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin.

Of his justice, Henry writes:

(1.) He will by no means clear the guilty.
(2.) He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.

The last point may be a stumbling block for many. Henry writes:

He may justly do it, for all souls are his, and there is a malignity in sin that taints the blood. He sometimes will do it, especially for the punishment of idolaters. Thus he shows his hatred to sin, and displeasure against it; yet he keepeth not his anger for ever, but visits to the third and fourth generation only, while he keepeth his mercy for thousands. [underlining mine]

What happens next?

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.